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Faculty Member

Daniel W. Sellen BA, MA (Oxon), AM, PhD

Email Address(es)
Office Phone
Office Address
Department of Anthropology 19 Ursula Franklin Street Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S2
The Joannah and Brian Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition
Social & Behavioural Health Sciences Division
SGS Status
Full Member
Appointment Status
Non budgtry Crss
Currently Accepting Doctoral Students?

Research Interests

  • Effective innovations to protect, promote and support healthy child diets and family nutrition security
  • Implementation science to develop and test community nutrition interventions
  • Addressing mismatch between breastfeeding and complementary feeding recommendations and practice
  • Applied anthropology of young child care-giving practices, food insecurity and sustainable livelihoods
  • Application of human ecology and evolutionary medical anthropology to improve global public health

Capacity Building Interests

  • Cloud-based information systems, monitoring, randomized trials and process evaluation of nutrition programs
  • Community based nutrition evaluation in hard-to-sample populations (nomads, resettled groups)
  • > 25 years international leadership in community-based, nutrition-sensitive research design, project management, analysis and reporting and of infant and young child feeding (IYCF) program innovation, integration, implementation and assessment

Education & Training History

1995-7 Leverhulme Postdostoral Fellow, University College London, UK

1995 Ph.D., Theoretical Ecology and International Nutrition, University of California, Davis, USA. (The socioecology of young child growth among the Datoga pastoralists of northern Tanzania.)

1989 M.A., Anthropology, University of Michigan, USA

1987 B.A. (Honours), Zoology and Biological Anthropology, Oxford University, UK

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • People, Food and Health (ANT 199Y)
  • Medical Anthropology: an Evolutionary Perspective on Human Health (ANT 208H1S)
  • Human Nutritional Ecology (ANT 371H)
  • Anthropology of Children and Child Care (ANT 435H)
  • Medical Anthropological Perspectives on Child Care, Nutrition and Health (ANT 7002H)
  • Institute of Medical Science Global Health Research, Module on Child and Maternal Health
  • Global Health Education Institute, Module on Nutrition and Food Security

Regular co-contributor to:

  • DLSPH Global Health Roundtable Series
  • Global Hidden Hunger (HMB 443H)
  • Global Health Research Methods (CHL 5420H)
  • Global Health Seminar (CPGH 5000Y)
  • International and Community Nutrition (NFS 490H)
  • Evolutionary and Ecological Theory and Method in Anthropology (ANT 7001H)
  • Principles of Evolutionary Anthropology (ANT 1002)


Director, The Joannah and Brian Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine

Distinguished Professor, Anthropology & Global Health, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts & Sciences

Professor, Division of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

Senior Resident Scholar, Centre for Global Child Health, The Hospital for Sick Children

Selected Funded Research Projects

2020-2022  Measuring the healthiness of Ghanaian children’s food environments to prevent obesity and non-communicable diseases. Funded by International Development Research Centre’s Food, Environment and Health Programme (Pi: A. Laar)

2018-2019 Strengthening Nutrition Intervention Monitoring Survey (SNIMS) for Monitoring and Research. Funded by CANWACH

2017-18 NIMS: Multi-country nutrition survey analyses and monitoring. Funded by Nutrition International (formerly Micronutrient Initiative)

2016-2020 ENRICH: Enhancing Nutrition seRvices to Improve maternal and Child Health in Africa and Asia. Funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC; formerly Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, DFATD) through a cooperative agreement with World Vision Canada

2016-2020 PINSTEP: Parkdale Infant Nutrition Security Targeted Evaluation Project. Funded by The Sprott Foundation and the Joannah and Brian Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition (Co-PI: D. O’Connor)

2013-2017  INSPIRE: What is Normal Milk? – Exploring Sociocutural, Evolutionary, Environmental, and Microbial Aspects of Human Milk Composition. Funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) (PI M. McGuire; Co-investigators: A. Prentice, C. Meehan, J. Foster, M. McGuire, L. Bode, S. Moore, L. Kvist, A. Lartey, J. Rodriguez, D. Sellen, R. Pareja Torres)

2012-2015 SUSTAIN-MNCH: Supporting Systems To Achieve Improved Nutrition, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health. Funded by World Vision Canada, under a Contribution Agreement with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

2010-2013  Effectiveness of a Baby-Friendly Hospital-based mothers’ support group, and a cell-phone based peer support program in supporting exclusive breastfeeding in an urban Kenyan community. Co-funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to FHI 360, through the Alive & Thrive Initiative Small Grants Program managed by UC Davis and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). (Co-PI: E. Kamau-Mbuthia; Co-investigators: A. Webb, S. Mbugua, W. Lou).

2010-2012  Exploring child feeding in refugees resettled to Canada. Funded by Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS), The Ontario Metropolis Centre. (Co-Investigators: Laura Anderson, Yogendra Shakya, Fiona Yeudall).

2009-2014 Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Human Ecology and Public Health Nutrition, Funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Representative Publications

Bădescu, I. et al Premasticated food transfer by wild chimpanzee mothers with their infants: Effects of maternal parity, infant age and sex, and food properties, Journal of Human Evolution, 2020

Francis, J. et al Vulnerable mothers’ experiences breastfeeding with an enhanced community lactation support program. Maternal & Child Nutrition 2020

Mildon, Alison, Daniel Sellen Use of mobile phones for behavior change communication to improve maternal, newborn and child health: a scoping review. Journal of Global Health, 2019.

Hackett, K et al It makes you someone who changes with the times”: Health worker and client perspectives on a smartphone-based counselling application deployed in rural Tanzania. Health Policy and Planning, 2019

Lane, A et al  Household composition and the infant fecal microbiome: the INSPIRE study. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2019

Lackey KA, et al What’s Normal? Microbiomes in Human Milk and Infant Feces Are Related To Each Other But Vary Geographically: The INSPIRE Study. Frontiers in Nutrition, 2019

McAuliffe C., et al. Critical Reflections on Mental Well-being for Post-Secondary Students Participating in the Field of Global Health International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 2019

For full publications see:


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